I have to tell you, I often read these old letters and wonder what it was like back in the late 30s and early 40s. I find it amazing that life was so different. I don’t just mean that there was no internet, but cars were different, income was different, and life was different. Indoor plumbing was a luxury, not a standard. Having a house was easier to build than buy. Having a car was a real plus. So many families only had one car, you didn’t just hop in your car, you had to plan your trip. Not everyone in the household worked unless they had a way to work. You didn’t have transportation like you do now. You didn’t always go to a store for food, you had to go to a shop, like a butcher shop or a farmer os somewhere to get the food. Not everyone had electricity, it was common, but not everywhere.
One big thing was that the mail was very important, it was a major means of communication! People really relied on the postal system to deliver written word to everyone. I think we all are forgetting how far our civilization has come in such a short period of time. Things are very different now.
One other thing that I remember my dad telling me, he couldn’t just go to high school. You needed written permission from you parents to go to high school. Now my dad went to a one room school but his father needed him on the farm, so anything past 8th grade was not permitted. Think about that, a society where it’s more important to work than finish school. Now kids expect their parents to pay for college even if they can’t afford it. Times have changed!
I read an article about cancer, which it seems there are millions, and it made me think of my Aunt Esther. She died of pancreatic cancer. It was sudden and she lived with us her final 6 weeks of her life. Not to bring you down but let me tell you how she lived before I talk of her death.
Aunt Esther was the youngest on my mother’s side. My mother had 2 sisters and 1 brother. The girls were very close. They were Thelma, my mother who was the second oldest, Pearl, the oldest, and Esther, the youngest. My mother’s brother was James. Now everyone call him Moon, including all of us. I don’t know why, they just did. My Mom’s nickname was Sis, and everyone in the family called her that except us kids, we called her mom.
So, this story is about Aunt Esther, the youngest. It was ironic that she was the first to die. She lived in her father’s house, after he died she was the only one there and she just stayed on the house. She didn’t do much to take care of it but it held together long enough for here to make a life there. She had a good life working for the state of Pennsylvania. She had an OK job with good benefits.
So anyway, let me tell you about her. She was a wonderful woman. She was always smiling. She was always so loving and friendly. I remember how much fun she was when I was you. She would be so playful and full of life. She knew everyone and would go around and talk to anyone. I really admired her energy and spirit. She would always crack jokes and be so friendly with people. She was a flirt too, let me tell you not many guys could pass her without saying hello, what a woman!
I really enjoyed my time with her, and I was very young. I was not even 10 and I would have so much fun being with her. She would take me around and show me off to her friends. “Here is my nephew, isn’t he cute?” she would say to almost everyone. She loved to be out and about people.
The other thing she did was smoke, like there was no tomorrow. She was definitely a chain smoker. I can’t remember her without a cigarette unless she was in my mother’s house. My mother hated smoking so no smoking in her house.
I had good times but I remember the last few weeks with Aunt Esther, she stayed with us because she could not take care of herself. My mother was happy to take her in. She needed care and we did what we could for her. She never let us know that she was in pain, but we could see it in her face. She would still smoke her cigarettes; she could not give them up. Is was sad but I think at that point she knew she would not make it. She was tough as well as lovable. You can be both!
She passed away in the hospital, after several operations. The doctors tried but everything they did just made her sicker and sicker. They couldn’t help her, if anything we felt as if it made her worse. I think they tried but they just didn’t know what to do.
My mother had a hard time getting over losing her younger sister. It was so hard on her. Since then, mom really hated cigarette, I mean hated them with a passion. It was so hard on my mother when she found out my sister smoked. It put a rift between them that lasted for years. I think mom just couldn’t stand the thought of losing a daughter. Luckily my sister is still around. My mom is here physically but mentally she is gone with dementia.
Anyway, I wanted to remember Aunt Esther, she had no husband or kids and no one else to remember her. I remember her and how great she was even though I was on about 11 at the time. I will never forget how great she really was. I loved her so much and still think of how friendly she was to this day.
If you have anyone you loved but lost while you were very young, maybe you can think of them and say a small prayer, thanking them for putting a smile on your face.
Hey, did I ever tell you about my wife? She is an excellent cook. When she’s in the kitchen she is a tyrant, (that’s right, my lovely wife becomes a control freak!) because this is her work area. I know a lot of people get like this at home and at work. She cooks almost every night. We hardly ever go out to eat. She will run the kitchen like a job site. Everything in there is a tool that she will use. Each tool must be used properly. Now, when I say tool, I am not talking about the stove, ovens (Yes, we have 2), and the knives. Each bowl, Wisk, spoon, fork is set out for a reason. She has a plan for everything she uses, right down to the specific hot pad. Pretty crazy to me but if we were on a job site, or…
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I lost my aunt Esther to cancer and went through this with her. She smoked endlessly up until she died. She lived with us her last 6 weeks of her life, and it was very sad. She was the youngest of all the kids on my mothers side. My mother asked her to stay with us and took care of her. You see my aunt never married, she lived a carefree lifestyle. She died in her 30s, always thinking there was more time. She was a loving, outgoing, caring woman. I will always remember her and her last days at our house. She knew it was the smoking that cause the cancer but could not quit. Although not my mother, this story reminds me of what we went through with her. She had pancreatic cancer and I would not wish that on anyone. It was very hard to see her go through the pain and suffering. One thing I remember from that experience is how she remained upbeat and positive. God bless her for that wonderful attitude.
My mother was so sad to lose her younger sister. We all mourned the loss but my mother took it very hard. It was a heavy burden. She missed her younger sister so much. She lost her mother at a young age so she practically raised Esther.
My mother always hated smoking and cigarettes, that is why. When my sister smoked my mother had a hard time dealing with it. If mom found the cigarettes she would crush them to pieces. She didn’t want to lose a daughter! My sister eventually quit, and it still fine. So that is one more loss mom did not have to bare.
Having watched my mother, and then my step mother, die slow, painful deaths, both from cancer after a lifetime of smoking, I wonder why anyone would choose to smoke?
Photo: M24 Digital
Drug addiction’s a curse and there’s nothing worse
Than an addiction to nicotine;
Smelling like an old ash tray for most of the day,
Some find that really obscene.
So I’m having a drag on my very last fag,
The last of a lifetime of smoking;
It’s all doom and gloom, there’s a priest in the room,
The last rites for me, I really wish I was joking.
I’m on quite a high, it’s the morphine that’s why,
The injections help to kill the pain.
If the cancer doesn’t kill, the morphine surely will,
Any hope now is simply in vain.
It wouldn’t happen to me, I thought I’d be free
From the deadly killer, the cancer;
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